Letter to Parents

March 15, 2016


On behalf of the staff at West Texas A&M University,  Student Medical Services I would like to welcome you to WTAMU! I want to let you know that Student Medical Services (SMS) is here for all your child's health needs.

SMS has a fully certified staff - 1 family physician, 2 family nurse practitioners, 2 RNs, 1 X-Ray technician, an office manager and several support staff members. Just about anything your family physician can do for your child, we can do here. We do all types of exams, women's health, x-rays, lab tests, and minor surgical procedures (sutures etc). We ask that your child call and make an appointment - 651-3287 - but we almost always can get them in sometime the day they call.

You may be wondering about immunizations.  Texas law requires all students (under age 30) entering an institution of higher education (public and private) to either receive a vaccination against bacterial meningitis or meet certain criteria for declining such a vaccination before the first day of the semester. There are no other required immunizations to attend WTAMU, but we do highly recommend certain vaccines. It is helpful if you send a copy of your child's shot record with them when they come to school. That way if there is ever any question about the last immunization we can help them figure out what it was they had, when they had it and when they need another one!

  • Meningitis is a serious and potentially life-threatening bacterial infection that can affect the lining of the brain and spinal cord as well as the blood. It can progress extremely rapidly from flu-like symptoms to brain damage and death. Freshmen who live in the residence halls are at increased risk of developing this illness. You should have received more information about this in a pamphlet sent out by admissions.

Immunizations recommended by the staff at SMS are:

  • Hepatitis B - 3 shots over a 6-month period. Hepatitis is a disease that attacks the liver and can be fatal. High school students who graduated in May 2006 are in the last class of students who have not been required to get this vaccine series.
  • Mumps - 2 shots Mumps is part of the MMR (Measles-Mumps-Rubella) series, although sometimes there is a separate shot for each illness.  All students should have received 2 shots.  If your child did not get 2 immunizations please have them immunized prior to coming to WTAMU.  There has been an upsurge of mumps throughout the country, but we have not had any cases of mumps here at WTAMU.  (This vaccine is not available at SMS)
  • Chicken Pox - 2 shots If your child hasn't had chicken pox please discuss this vaccine with your health care provider. Chicken pox in adults is a serious problem, and will cause a long interruption in your studies. (This vaccine is not available at SMS)

Hepatitis B, Hepatitis A, Tetanus, and Meningitis vaccines are available at the clinic. If your child needs to get any of these they may stop by the clinic while you are at the New Student Conference, or any time during the summer terms.

If you have any questions regarding these immunizations please call SMS and ask to speak with one of the nurses. 806-651-3287.

 It is very helpful if you go over your students' family health history. We will be asking them questions like "any history of heart disease in your family?" etc. Often they have never had to answer these kinds of questions and they are not sure of their medical history. They also need to know if they are allergic to any medications, and if they take a medication routinely what the name is, the strength and why they are taking it. While this sounds very elementary, parents have managed most health care issues and students haven't had to deal with this information. They also need to know if they have health insurance, does it cover medications (co-pay) and they need to have their own copy of the insurance card. If specialty care becomes necessary while they are at WTAMU we can more easily arrange referrals if we have a copy of their current insurance card. At this point WTAMU SMS does not file for insurance reimbursement. Most additional costs incurred at the clinic are minimal and the student is expected to pay for the services received. They will be given a copy of a super bill, which can be submitted to the insurance company for reimbursement, or applied toward an annual deductible.

We also want you to understand the policy on privacy regarding your child's medical care here. We are unable to release any information regarding your child unless they have signed a release of information allowing us to do so. This includes even telling you if they have an appointment, or kept an appointment. This is standard procedure followed by all medical facilities. If your child signs the release of information and/or gives us permission at the time of the visit we will be most happy to discuss their case with you. This is a transition for both parents and children, as they move from childhood to young adulthood. The responsibility for their health care now falls on them and we must abide by the privacy laws. These rules extend to professors, university staff and employers as well. In accordance with HIPPA regulations no information may be given to anyone other than health care providers without the student's permission.

 We hope your child has happy, healthy years at WTAMU, but if they need medical care or any advice, please be reassured we are ready to help them with any of their health care needs.

 Welcome once more to WTAMU.


LuAnne Rickwartz, RN,  Director of Student Medical Services



revised March 15, 2016